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  1. Stopping money flowing into the pockets of 'pirate' sites has been one of this year's top topics, but it's something that's easier said than done. In fact, it's so complex that despite the company's best efforts, during the first five months of 2014 Sony paid for almost two million ad impressions on "rogue" sites. In recent years the mainstream entertainment industries have largely come to the realization that chasing down individual file-sharers is unlikely to yield significant anti-piracy results. With this in mind new strategies have been adopted, one of the most important being the attacking of ‘pirate’ site revenue streams. The theory under consideration is that such sites would cease to exist if a profit could not be made from their operations. One of the key ways sites generate revenue is via advertising so pressure has been mounting on agencies and the companies placing the ads to do everything possible to stop their promotions appearing on pirate sites. On occasion, groups such as the Digital Citizens Alliance publish information aimed at naming and shaming big brands who’ve let their ads appear in the wrong places. “Good Money Gone Bad: Digital Thieves and the Hijacking of the Online Ad Business†was a DCA report from February 2014 which estimated that the top “pirate sites†generate $227 million in annual ad revenue. The report also called out big companies including Amazon, American Express, Dell, Ford, Lego and McDonalds for allowing their ads to appear on pirate domains. What it failed to do was point the finger at companies a little closer to home. TorrentFreak has learned that during its monitoring of “pirate†sites in early 2014, the MPAA discovered that ads commissioned by entertainment companies close to the ones it represents were appearing on those very same sites. In a five month analysis (Jan to May 2014) the MPAA found that Sony companies including Sony Online Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Entertainment Network, Sony Corporation, and Sony Mobile Communications, were placing ads on ‘rogue’ sites. This wasn’t a few here and a few there either. In the first five months of the year Sony company ads appeared on “pirate†sites almost two million times, with the lion’s share placed by SCE and its partners. Internal correspondence reveals that Sony Pictures were keen to eliminate this embarrassment, with the company’s content protection department writing to other divisions requesting that ads are kept aware from pirate networks in future. Sony said its goals were threefold: – “Starving pirate sites of any additional ad revenue generated by viewers clicking through on those internet ads†– “Eliminating any semblance of legitimacy that ads for well* known brands might lend these rogue sites†– “Protecting the reputation of our brand, since these sites often include malware and ads for questionable and/or illegal content.†Noting that the information had been provided by the MPAA, Sony asked its sister companies to assist them in the fight against piracy. It’s unclear whether Sony has achieved its aims but in any event, don’t expect an MPAA partner company to be called out for supporting piracy anytime soon.
  2. The FBI admitted that the online attack that crippled Sony Pictures, resulted in theft of confidential information and leak of unreleased movies to the web would have challenged almost any cyber security measures. The investigation of the attack showed that the used tools were extremely sophisticated. The FBI also said that the attacks were organized and undoubtedly persistent. Security experts had to admit that the malware used in the recent hack would have slipped or probably got past 90% of up-to-date online defenses in private industry. Moreover, it would have challenged even state government. In other words, the experts explain that it’s very hard to prevent sophisticated and well-funded cyber attackers from hacking the company. On the other hand, other security experts criticize Sony Pictures for its poor data security – according to some reports, the company stored login details in unencrypted spreadsheets. The Federal Bureau of Investigation believes that the skills necessary to carry out such a cyber attack weren’t limited to government-funded rings and that cyber criminals also have the required level of sophistication. The hack took place on 24 November, and the responsibility for it was claimed by a hacking group calling itself Guardians of Peace. North Korea was under suspicion at first, but then a link between the country and Guardians of Peace was muted. Pyongang was suspected because of its reaction to the Sony movie The Interview, which depicts an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un. The country was quick to deny involvement, though a number of security researchers are still convinced that it was a state-sponsored attack.
  3. In his end-of-year press conference today, President Barack Obama called the decision by Sony Pictures Entertainment to cancel the release of its film The Interview a “mistake.†“I am sympathetic to the threats they face,†Obama said. “Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake…. “We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,†Obama said. “Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they will start doing when they see a documentary they don’t like or news reports they don’t like? Or, even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended.†It’s important to point out that Hollywood is already engaging in self-censorship in the wake of the Sony hack; on Wednesday, another entertainment company, New Regency, pulled the plug on a Steve Carell film set in Pyonyang before the film had even hit production. Actor George Clooney, in an interview yesterday with Deadline, noted that Sony didn’t want to cancel its film, but had no choice once movie theaters started canceling screenings. “Sony didn’t pull the movie because they were scared; they pulled the movie because all the theaters said they were not going to run it,†he said. “And they said they were not going to run it because they talked to their lawyers and those lawyers said if somebody dies in one of these, then you’re going to be responsible.†Sony CEO Michael Lynton denied that his company had “caved†under the threat. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter this morning, he said, “The movie theaters came to us one by one over the course of a very short time. We were very surprised by it…. At that point in time we had no alternative to not proceed with a theatrical release on the 25th of December….We have not caved. We have not given in. We have persevered.†Regardless of who initiated the cancellations, in his interview with Deadline, Clooney expressed the same sentiments Obama did in saying that industries should not bow to threats—especially ones that trample on the First Amendment. “The truth is, you’re going to have a much harder time finding distribution now. And that’s a chilling effect.†President Obama added today that he wished Sony “had spoken to me first†before making its decision. “I would have told them, do not get into a pattern in which you are intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.†He likened it to the idea of Boston canceling the Boston Marathon out of fear that another attack might strike that event. “I think all of us have to anticipate that occasionally there are going to be breaches like this, they are going to be costly,… but we can’t start changing our patterns of behavior any more than we stop going to a football game because there might be the possibility of a terrorist attack..lets not get into that way of doing business.†Obama’s statement followed an announcement this morning from the FBI that it had evidence attributing the Sony hack to North Korea. The evidence provided by the FBI in its announcement, however, has still not convinced many skeptical security professionals that North Korea is behind the attack. Updated 1pm PST: To add statement from Sony CEO Michael Lynton.
  4. The overall Sony brand has reportedly taken a major hit in terms of consumer perception in the wake of the hacks against Sony Pictures and the ensuing fallout. The controversy has pushed media and technology giant to its worst levels in six years, according to new research service YouGov, discovered by Variety. YouGov's BrandIndex is calculated by asking people:"If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?" This is then calculated into a score that can range from 100 to -100, with a zero being a neutral position. Sony's score this year began at 13, dropping to 11 on November 24 when the Sony hack was first made public. It only fell further from there as the hackers posted troves of internal Sony documents, including executive salaries, personal emails, and even movie scripts. Things got even worse for Sony following week's cancellation of The Interview, the controversial James Franco/Seth Rogen movie apparently at the heart of the cyberattack, which the FBI says came from North Korea. As of Friday, December 19, Sony's score was 3, a six-year low. YouGov points out that this could fall further, as The Interview's cancellation has drawn much displeasure from some, while United States president Barack Obama has even said Sony "made a mistake" in scuttling the movie's release. This isn't the first time Sony's brand image has taken a hit in recent years. The company's BrandIndex score dropped off in April 2011 when the PlayStation Network was breached. Millions of accounts were compromised, and the service itself didn't return to full functionality for weeks. For more on the fallout from the Sony Pictures hack, be sure to read GameSpot sister sites CNET and CBS News. The YouGov BrandIndex is measured by interviews with 4,300 people every weekday from a representative US population sample.
  5. During his annual year-end press conference today, United States president Barack Obama spoke out about Sony Pictures' recent decision to cancel controversial Seth Rogen/James Franco movie The Interview in the wake of widespread cyberattacks, saying the film company "made a mistake." "Sony is a corporation. It suffered significant damage," Obama explained, as reported by The Associated Press. "There were threats against its employees. I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced. Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake." "I wish they had spoken to me first," Obama went on to say about Sony executives who made the decision to scuttle movie, a satire about an attempt to assassinate North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un. "We cannot have a society in which some dictatorship someplace can start imposing censorship." Obama went on to suggest that Sony's cancellation of the movie could lead to other, similarly damaging situations if leaders of other nations "start seeing a documentary that they don't like or news reports that they don't like." The president's speech came just hours after the FBI officially pointed the finger at the North Korean government for the massive hack against Sony Pictures. "As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other U.S. government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions," the FBI said in a statement on its website this afternoon. The statement goes on to say that the FBI will pursue and "impose costs and consequences" on any person, group, or nation state that launches cyberattacks against the US or its interests. For its part, North Korea has denied any involvement in the widespread hacking. The perpetrators have leaked troves of internal documents, ranging from executive salaries to the script for 2015 James Bond movie Spectre. For lots more on the Sony hacking case, check out GameSpot sister site CNET's in-depth coverage.
  6. Sony Planned to Flood Torrent Sites With “Promo†Torrents Sony Pictures' TV network AXN developed a guerrilla marketing campaign to convert users of The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and other torrent sites to paying customers. The company planned to flood torrent sites with promos for the premiere Hannibal disguised as pirated copies of the popular TV-show. Copyright holders have a wide range of options they can employ to counter online piracy. Takedown notices are best known and sent out in their millions every day. However, the people at Sony Pictures’ TV network AXN thought that uploading content to torrent sites could help their business. Sony’s AXN in Central Europe developed an ad campaign for the show “Hannibal†which proposed posting torrents of the first minute of the show on popular torrent sites such as Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents. The revelations are part of the Sony Pictures leaks which contain a discussion on the plan, framing it as a “brilliant anti*piracy social campaign.†The AXN employee describes the idea as follows. “The idea is simple. We made a promo dedicated to Hannibal which is convincing people in very creative and no*invasive way to watch Hannibal legally on AXN instead downloading it from torrents. “[T]his promo is supposed to be downloaded on the torrents sites, imitating the first episode of Hannibal season 2 but in reality would be only a 60 sec promo. The torrents sites are exactly the place where people just after [the] US premier would be searching for the first episode of season 2. So the success of this project is more than 100% sure.†Unfortunately for the AXN Central Europe team the advertising campaign wasn’t well received at Sony Pictures’ headquarters in Los Angeles. The Hollywood execs showed great concern about the sites where these promos would end up, a view that wasn’t widely shared by the team in Europe. “From the legal point of view in many CE countries the torrents sites itself are legal. Only sharing and downloading the illegal stuff there is not. This project is to support anti*piracy strategy not against,†the AXN employee writes. “From my perspective this would be something really unconventional, something to be shared and presented in case studies presentations. Great story for be presented at the panel discussions. This could really help us to show AXN CE is actively fighting against piracy.†http://i.imgur.com/EYB9RUq.png The discussion eventually landed on the desk of a Sony Pictures Executive Vice President, who emphasized that it was a no go. Populating torrent sites with promos could risk current efforts to disrupt those same websites. “I called [XXX] and restated that this is simply a long road to ‘no’ because it so severely undercuts our efforts not only in CE, but all we have accomplished elsewhere. “Forget about a site blocking strategy if we start putting legitimate PSAs or promos on sites we’ve flagged to governments as having no legitimate purpose other than theft… PSAs being for public good, etc…†And so it never happened… http://torrentfreak.com/sony-planned...rrents-141213/
  7. "I really believe it's year two when you tend to see those titles come through that start to define the whole generation." "I really believe it's year two when you tend to see those titles come through that start to define the whole generation." Though the PlayStation 4 has gotten off to a hot start, the console's best days are still to come, according to Sony UK executive Fergal Gara. In a new interview, Gara said the PS4 software lineup has been great so far, but explained that generation-defining games are still to come. "I really believe it's year two when you tend to see those titles come through that start to define the whole generation," he told IGN. "The best is yet to come on PS4. We've seen a brilliant start with the mega-franchises, like the FIFAs, Call of Duties, and the Assassin's Creeds, but we've also seen some strong new IPs launch--the likes of Destiny and Watch Dogs. But I think that the ones that are truly to define the generation are probably still to come, to be honest." Gara went on to say that history bears this out. He said the Original PlayStation didn't get its first "truly memorable" game until 1996, which was two years after the console's initial debut in Japan. "It shows that it does take some time for a platform to mature and for developers to make the best of it," he said. "In fact, you look at PS3, two of the highest-rated games of the entire cycle came in the last year with The Last of Us and GTA V. So it's a great sign of how things can progress over several years." Sony has a number of big-name games already lined up for PS4 in 2015, including Bloodborne, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, The Order: 1886, and No Man's Sky, among others. As we look to the future, what are you looking for from PS4? Let us know in the comments below!
  8. Sony game division's sales target raised by $89 million; PS Vita still performing poorly. Sony sold 3.3 million PlayStation 4s worldwide during the three months between July and September, bringing its total unit sales to 13.5 million. Though the summer months are usually slow for game companies, they proved to be the second-best quarter for the PlayStation 4 yet, having surpassed the 2.7 million units it sold between April and June, and the 3 million units between January and March. The next-gen system's performance continues to outperform Sony's internal targets. Game income for the quarter soared to $195 million, and as a result Sony has increased its full-year targets by $89 million. Sales of PlayStation 4 were so strong that Sony claimed it was a key reason why revenue for the whole business climbed 7.2 per cent. However, the company-wide problems persist, particularly as it tries to absorb an impairment charge of $1.58 billion. Meanwhile, PlayStation Vita sales were not reported again. Sony instead merged that number with PlayStation TV and PSP sales, though together this still only reached 700,000 units for quarter. Overall, the corporation's lost $806 million during the quarter. This figure was a better outcome than most investors feared. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  9. Attendees will also get to see "a bunch of stuff that maybe we shouldn't show you yet," Sony says. Sony's upcoming PlayStation Experience event--a two-day community-focused gathering in Las Vegas meant to celebrate all things PlayStation--is going be like nothing you've ever seen. That's according to PlayStation boss Scott Rohde, who labeled the event "unprecedented," and even teased that it will include some special announcements or reveals. "This event that we're gonna hold; this is pretty unprecedented," Rohde said during the latest PlayStation Blogcast. "This is an event for the fans, and I am so incredibly geeked about it. We're gonna show you a bunch of stuff that maybe we shouldn't show you yet." Overall, Rohde said PlayStation Experience aims to be a "celebration of the [PlayStation 4] and all the fans that made it as great as it is today." Sony announced PlayStation Experience earlier this month. Attendees will get to sit in on panels, meet developers, and go hands-on with upcoming PlayStation games. They'll also have a chance to get free swag and buy rare collectibles directly from game studios. The show will also feature an "exclusive first look" at PlayStation's 2015 software slate, which includes games such as Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and Bloodborne, among others. The event will be held December 6 and 7 in Las Vegas at a "huge" venue. One-day passes will sell for $50, while two-day tickets will go for $90. More details regarding the show are expected to be announced today, October 20. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  10. "It just looks gorgeous," Scott Rohde says. The visual presentation for upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive Bloodborne is "off the charts," according to PlayStation executive Scott Rohde. He is the software product development head for Sony Worldwide Studios America. Speaking during latest PlayStation Blogcast, Rohde said what he enjoys so much about Bloodborne's visuals is the way the game feels "wet." "The way it looks; just off the charts to me," Rohde said about Bloodborne. "It has, I've said this before ... there's a certain, like, wetness to that game. I don't know what other word to use. It just feels like everything is dripping and oozing with whatever it is--it's water, it's blood, it's whatever it is; and it just looks gorgeous." According to a Famitsu report from June, the final version of Bloodborne is aiming to run at 1080p/30fps. Bloodborne is the latest game developed by From Software, the creators of the Demon's Souls and Dark Souls role-playing game franchises. The game launches on February 6, 2015 in North America, and you'll also be able to buy a special edition version of the game on that date. It is possible, too, that Bloodborne will be one of the games Sony talks about during December's PlayStation Experience event in Las Vegas. The company teased that attendees will get a glimpse at Sony's 2015 software lineup, which would include Bloodborne. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  11. Retailers selling alternate console for an additional £20. The glacier-white PlayStation 4 will ship in the UK on Friday October 17, Sony has confirmed to GameSpot. Retailers appear to be offering these systems at a slight increase in cost, selling each 500GB unit for about £350. These come with a custom white DualShock 4 controller too, as well as all the additional cables and materials that come with the standard black PlayStation 4 console. Though there has been no "official" price drop for PS4 and Xbox One, both consoles now sell at a lowered price in the UK, at £330 each. It is not clear whether white PS4s will be sold across North America. Previously, these systems were only available to purchase in bundles, with games such as Destiny andDriveClub. A white PS4 will also feature in a Far Cry 4 bundle due to launch across the UK in November. For additional shots of the white PS4, take a look at the gallery below. Click on the thumbnails below to view in gallery mode Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  12. Shuhei Yoshida adds that many of the components used in Project Morpheus are from smartphones, which should keep pricing down. Sony has completed 85 percent of the work necessary to release the consumer model of its PlayStation 4virtual reality headset, Project Morpheus. PlayStation executive Shuhei Yoshida revealed the estimate toThe Wall Street Journal at the Tokyo Game Show this week. He wouldn't say when Morpheus will launch or what it will cost, but he did add that many of the device's components are also used in smartphones. This should help keep the product's cost down, which is something we already know Sony is intent on doing. Yoshida did not say what the remaining 15 percent of Morpheus development will require. However, just last month, Yoshida said about the hardware itself, "there are many areas we can improve on to bring it to an even higher level." He also said previously that Sony will not release Morpheus--still a working title for the headset--until there is a sufficient software lineup in place. The Oculus Rift device currently sells for $350, though that is for a version of the product for developers, not consumers. For its part, Oculus VR has said previously that it wants to ship the consumer version of Oculus Rift by the end of the next year, with final pricing coming in between $200 and $400. It's even possible that a beta for the consumer model could be released as early as next summer. Going back to Morpheus, Yoshida mentioned that while the "initial target" for Morpheus will be PS4 owners, Sony sees VR overall as a technology that could have broad applications, in markets outside of games. This broad appeal could in turn lead to a rise in PS4 sales. "We are hoping that once we introduce Project Morpheus to the market, the attractiveness of PS4 will increase and the PS4 could be received by many more people who are not necessarily core gamers," Yoshida said. VR has the potential to impact major markets such as education. As Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey says, VR devices could help schools with limited budgets take their students on virtual field trips to faraway places, or even places locked in time. VR could also let you virtually attend a concert or sports game, or even help surgeons prepare for an operation. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post Don't forget to press the Thanks button
  13. This week an anti-piracy company reportedly working for Sony has tried to put an end to all the World Cup fun. In a wild series of complaints to Google, dozens of legitimate companies including ESPN, EA Sports, The BBC, Business Insider, Symantec and even FIFA itself have been accused of infringing copyright. Soccer fever has been spreading across the globe this week, with dozens of millions tuning in to watch the World Cup via regular TV and an abundance of online services. While England basked in its somewhat traditional World Cup disappointment Thursday, viewing records werebeing broken, but amazingly while Brazil sizzles, some want to pour cold water on the excitement. Allow us to introduce MarkScan, a self-described “consulting boutique dedicated to your IP requirementsâ€. The anti-piracy company is based in India and boasts a wide range of clients including the BBC, HBO, Nokia, and other prestigious brands. Just recently MarkScan has been doing some work for Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd, a Sony Entertainment Television subsidiary in India. In June, Multi Screen Medialaunched LIV Sports, a digital sports entertainment site that was chosen by FIFA to be the official mobile and Internet broadcaster for the 2014 World Cup. This week, MarkScan set off on an inevitable DMCA takedown spree to protect its clients’ and FIFA’s rights. What a disaster it’s been. Much like FIFA, MarkScan began by sending its first batch of copyright complaints to Google several days before a ball had even been kicked. The notice, which covered 46 domains allegedly streaming the World Cup, was 100% rejected by Google. One of the complaints targeted a great article by GigaOM which helpfully offered “Where to watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup live online, and how to stream it without cable.†The article listed all legal sources, including ESPN, across several countries. Several subsequent takedown notices targeting more than 700 other URLs saw between 90% and 100% of URLs rejected by Google. One of them was nothing short of a disaster. The notice, sent on behalf of Sony’s Liv Sports via Multi Screen Media, targeted 610 URLs, all of which were rejected by Google. All were claimed to be infringing on Liv Sports’ and FIFA’s rights, yet what the notice actually did was target some of the web’s most respectable news sites and resources. In the article titled “World Cup 2014: How to watch across BBC TV, radio and onlineâ€, the BBC attempted to inform its millions of readers how to legitimately access the World Cup. However, as can be seen from the image below, MarkScan had other ideas. Sadly, this attempted takedown of a purely informational and entirely legal article wasn’t the only casualty of this notice. An article published by Variety informing its readership that ESPN would bestreaming all 64 matches was deemed to be copyright-infringing too, as was a similar attempt by Canada’s CBC.ca. Other catastrophes would be amusing if they weren’t so awful, such as the attempt to censor this article on Bleacher Report which advised how to watch Uruguay versus Germany – a match from FIFA World Cup 2010 four years ago. Also targeted was this 2013 article from Hollywood Reporter which detailed plans by Sony (ironically) and FIFA to broadcast the World Cup 2014 in Ultra HD. FoxSports’ interactive World Cup Schedule was also marked as infringing. Both are shown below. Even legitimate traditional broadcasters couldn’t get the word out unhindered. Communications company Cox wanted to let its residential customers know they could “Watch the World’s Biggest Soccer Games. Any Way You Want†but MarkScantold Google the page was illegal. The whole notice, which can be read here, has many more examples than those listed above, including the attempted censorship of EA Sports’ Twitter account and FIFA’s very own site – for FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012. Brilliant. But, in its own unique way, one takedown is more disappointing than most. In a post dated June 9, before the World Cup had even begun, Symantec tried toinform its readers on how to avoid various World Cup related scams. We don’t need to tell you what happened to it. TorrentFreak contacted MarkScan whose Internet Enforcement Team told us they take care to avoid mistakes. “We want to assure you that we deploy technology, in addition to best efforts of our teams, to ensure that we do not impact legal content on yours, or any other website,†they explained. We suspect someone could be seeing at least a yellow card, possibly worse, in the days to come.
  14. So, Sony. This whole Spider-Man thing isn't working as planned, is it? The latest film, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, is just finishing up its run, ostensibly setting the stage for 2016's The Amazing Spider-Man 3. But after becoming the lowest-grossing film in the series, by a considerable margin, could Sony be having cold feet about the webhead? Spider-Man could defeat the Sinister Six, but is his greatest enemy actually audience indifference? Buried within some Justice League chatter in this Ain't It Cool News report is the revealing information that The Amazing Spider-Man 3 is being delayed from its original date into 2017. This is a big deal because while the third film already carried a June 10th, 2016 date, The Amazing Spider-Man 4 also had a date for May 4th, 2018. Sony also had directors on-board The Sinister Six and Venom, with hopes of starting one of those films early next year. Postponing Spidey likely means that, unless people want two Spider-Man movies practically back-to-back (unlikely, but possible), Sony will have to surrender that plum May 4th, 2018 slot, the best '18 date on the calendar. Why is this happening? Because you don't like Spider-Man. I hope you feel good about yourself. Sony head Amy Pascal was reportedly boasting about the new Spider-Man grossing a billion dollars worldwide. Right now, as we speak, it's on the cusp of $700 million, considerably less than a billion, and the lowest-grossing Spidey movie by over $50 million. Worse yet, that's with half-a-billion coming from overseas. In America, the film has yet to reach $200 million, not a good look considering the budget was somewhere around $240-$260. If you make a conservative estimate in regards to the film's prints and advertising budget (even though ads for this were EVERYWHERE), then $700 million might be a break-even point. Toss out any merchandising profits (which go straight to Marvel) and it sounds like this was a flat-out bad investment. In actuality, the swollen international numbers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 have to do with an expanding worldwide marketplace and the 3D surcharges. If we're talking purely domestic, each Spider-Man film has grossed less than the previous entry. And with a dozen years of inflation plus those 3D surcharges, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 wasn't even able to gross HALF domestically what Spider-Man pulled in during it's 2002 release. Even if these franchises are too big to fail, that's close to "worst possible scenario" for Sony, who were hoping to shoot right into four more Spidey movies after this. The bump to just one year later (with an "undetermined") sounds temporary; in fact, it wouldn't be surprising if another shoe were to drop. Sony could always bite the bullet and sell Spider-Man back to Marvel at Los Angeles Clippers prices. The irony of this would be that Marvel probably wouldn't even sniff at that offer until it was considerably lower; why would they need Spider-Man right now? The other option is to continue with these movies and march ahead with part three (likely without Marc Webb), but the next Spider-Man films march ahead without Emma Stone, their most marketable and appealing element. The third? You guessed it, another reboot. Miles Morales is waiting in the bullpen, guys.
  15. So, Sony. This whole Spider-Man thing isn't working as planned, is it? The latest film,The Amazing Spider-Man 2, is just finishing up its run, ostensibly setting the stage for 2016's The Amazing Spider-Man 3. But after becoming the lowest-grossing film in the series, by a considerable margin, could Sony be having cold feet about the webhead? Spider-Man could defeat the Sinister Six, but is his greatest enemy actually audience indifference? Buried within some Justice League chatter in this Ain't It Cool News report is the revealing information that The Amazing Spider-Man 3 is being delayed from its original date into 2017. This is a big deal because while the third film already carried a June 10th, 2016 date, The Amazing Spider-Man 4 also had a date for May 4th, 2018. Sony also had directors on-board The Sinister Six and Venom, with hopes of starting one of those films early next year. Postponing Spidey likely means that, unless people want two Spider-Man movies practically back-to-back (unlikely, but possible), Sony will have to surrender that plum May 4th, 2018 slot, the best '18 date on the calendar. Why is this happening? Because you don't like Spider-Man. I hope you feel good about yourself. Sony head Amy Pascal was reportedly boasting about the new Spider-Mangrossing a billion dollars worldwide. Right now, as we speak, it's on the cusp of $700 million, considerably less than a billion, and the lowest-grossing Spidey movie by over $50 million. Worse yet, that's with half-a-billion coming from overseas. In America, the film has yet to reach $200 million, not a good look considering the budget was somewhere around $240-$260. If you make a conservative estimate in regards to the film's prints and advertising budget (even though ads for this were EVERYWHERE), then $700 million might be a break-even point. Toss out any merchandising profits (which go straight to Marvel) and it sounds like this was a flat-out bad investment. In actuality, the swollen international numbers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 have to do with an expanding worldwide marketplace and the 3D surcharges. If we're talking purely domestic, each Spider-Man film has grossed less than the previous entry. And with a dozen years of inflation plus those 3D surcharges, The Amazing Spider-Man 2wasn't even able to gross HALF domestically what Spider-Man pulled in during it's 2002 release. Even if these franchises are too big to fail, that's close to "worst possible scenario" for Sony, who were hoping to shoot right into four more Spidey movies after this. The bump to just one year later (with an "undetermined") sounds temporary; in fact, it wouldn't be surprising if another shoe were to drop. Sony could always bite the bullet and sell Spider-Man back to Marvel at Los Angeles Clippers prices. The irony of this would be that Marvel probably wouldn't even sniff at that offer until it was considerably lower; why would they need Spider-Man right now? The other option is to continue with these movies and march ahead with part three (likely without Marc Webb), but the nextSpider-Man films march ahead without Emma Stone, their most marketable and appealing element. The third? You guessed it, another reboot. Miles Morales is waitingin the bullpen, guys.
  16. Sony Blocks Creative Commons Movie With Bogus DMCA Takedown It's pretty hard to enrage free software advocates, the Creative Commons movement, and anti-overreaching copyright and anti-censorship camps with a single move, so 'congratulations' to Sony for managing that today. Thanks to a bogus DMCA takedown, the Blender Institute's open movie 'Sintel' is now blocked on YouTube. We’ve reported on dozens of wrongful DMCA takedowns over the years, with each raising their own unique issues. Some are just sloppy efforts executed by careless anti-piracy companies while others have been carried out in a deliberate effort to stifle speech. But while all wrongful takedowns have the potential to cause damage, few can be so clumsy and likely to enrage as the one carried out by Sony Pictures a few hours ago. If there was a competition to annoy as many people as possible with one click, Sony would definitely take the top spot. Here goes. The Blender Foundation is the non-profit group behind the development of the open source 3D graphics program Blender. The Foundation is funded by donations with the aim of giving “the worldwide Internet community access to 3D technology in general, with Blender as a core.†To showcase what Blender can do and promote the platform, since 2006 the Blender Foundation and Blender Institute have released movies including Elephants Dream and Big Buck Bunny. Their third movie, Sintel, was released in 2010 and was funded by donations, DVD sales and other sponsorship. So that people were free to work with the movie, all animation data, characters and textures were released under Creative Commons Attribution License. The open source beauty of Sintel Up until yesterday the movie was available on YouTube where it had been viewed millions of times. This version of the video is embedded in dozens upon dozens of news stories talking about the movie itself and the wider Blender project. However, the beauty of Sintel has now been transformed into something infinitely less creative. Apparently Sony Pictures think they created and therefore own Sintel so on that basis have had the video blocked on YouTube on copyright grounds. If prizes were being handed out for the ‘best’ wrongful DMCA takedown likely to annoy the greatest numbers of people, Sony would be taking Olympic gold here. Free and open source software – check. Multiple instances of community funding via donation – check. Creative Commons content censorship – check. Blatantly claiming copyright on someone else’s content – check. Shoot first, ask questions later mentality – check. The only good thing to come out of this as far as Blender is concerned is all the free publicity they’re going to get in the next 48 hours. Bad publicity aside, *nothing* will happen to Sony – people aren’t going to like that either.